Is Socially Responsible Investing Right for You? 5 Ways to Tell

Social responsibility and love for the environment go hand in hand. Surprisingly, so do social responsibility and love for ROI.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s absolutely possible to remain true to your most deeply held principles and earn a competitive return at the same time. The key lies in socially responsible investing, a discipline that (per USSIF, a U.S. social investing consortium) “considers environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) criteria to generate long-term competitive financial returns and positive societal impact.”

Like all investing strategies, socially responsible investing isn’t for everyone. Before changing your portfolio allocations or adopting an entirely new approach to managing your money, check with a money management firm, ideally one that focuses on Canadian investors.

  1. You Care Passionately About Social Causes

If you didn’t have a passion for protecting the earth’s bounty, you probably wouldn’t be reading this. But socially responsible investing works best when it’s not focused on a single source of good.

The lowest-cost socially responsible funds tend to be broadly diversified, meaning they invest in dozens or even hundreds of friendly companies. If you’re investing in individual stocks, it’s in your interest to diversify your portfolio across a wide range of industries — meaning you’ll likely invest in some companies that benefit the environment, some that support social justice causes, some that aim to improve human health, some that empower individual consumers, and so on.

  1. You’re Willing to Take a More Active Approach to Money Management

No, you don’t have to embrace the wild, wonderful world of day trading. But you do have to take a certain degree of ownership over your funds. That’s because the most passive investing strategies tend to focus on index funds and other instruments that don’t filter for socially responsible status.

Put another way, the broader market isn’t yet quite responsible enough for socially responsible investors to put their trust in ultra low-cost passive strategies.

  1. You Care About More Than the Bottom Line

Are you willing to give up some return potential for the peace of mind that comes with knowing your money is in the right place? Then socially responsible investing is for you. To be clear, not all socially responsible investments underperform the broader market. But periods of relatively anemic performance aren’t out of the question, either — for instance, renewable energy stocks tend to underperform oil and gas stocks when energy prices are low.

  1. You’re Willing to Accept Some Risk

Every investment carries some measure of risk, of course. However, many socially responsible firms are riskier than their established, less responsible counterparts. Though the renewable energy industry has some titans, many green companies are relative newbies. Ditto for companies committed to social justice causes or charitable works.

  1. You’re Given the All Clear by Your Financial Advisor (Or Do Your Own Thorough Due Diligence)

Last, but not least: don’t switch up your investing strategy, even for a good cause, without first consulting a financial advisor or conducting your own due diligence. Socially responsible investments aren’t going anywhere, but you want to make sure you’re doing right by your hard-earned money.

Are you invested in any socially responsible instruments? Why or why not?

 

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What Are the Best, Post-Election Investment Vehicles

While Donald Trump’s surprise election victory may have taken the financial markets by storm, the initial burst of volatility that gripped the Dow Jones and S&P quickly subsided within 24 hours of Hilary Clinton’s muted concession. This does not mean that volatility will not return to the global markets once Trump is unveiled in the Oval Office on January 20th, 2017, however, while Trump’s unique standing as a businessman rather than a politician means that the economy will head into uncharted and uncertain territory under his stewardship.

3 of the Best Post-Election Investment Models

This is no help to investors, of course, who must look to negate the uncertain climate and continue to trade profitably. With this in mind, here are three of the best post-election investment vehicles that are worth considering: –

  1. High Value Stocks Such as Apple

As a billionaire and global real estate tycoon, it is little surprise that Trump is committed to reducing the impact of corporation tax on American businesses. Under his relatively vague and yet-to-be-confirmed plan, no company of any size would pay more than 15% of their total income in taxes, creating the single largest revolution since the tenure of Regan.

Not only would this discourage firms from deferring their taxes abroad, but it would also earmark high value stocks such as Apple and Google as viable investment options. Even dividend investment would become more lucrative, with blue chip companies like Coca Cola likely to experience consider share price hikes as a result.

  1. Global Stock and Bond Index Funds

If there is one thing that investment management firms constantly preach, it is the importance of diversification. This not only applies to the assets an derivatives that you back, however, as Trump’s election win may also herald a unique opportunity expand into global stock and bond index funds.

Despite Trump’s apparent stance against globalisation, this is a process that will continue throughout the US and incorporating international funds such as the iShares Global 100 ETF can help you to capitalise on this. This will deliver both short and long-term gains, which is a considerable benefit in such an uncertain marketplace.

  1. Corporate Bonds

With the stock market likely to continue to suffer from at least some form of short-term volatility, you may also want to turn your attention to the safe haven of corporate bonds in 2017. These assets always tend to perform well when stocks are declining, while they offer a genuinely secure source of wealth that are ideal for long-term investment plans. Make sure you know what to expect from these bonds though. A good law firm, such as Withers Worldwide, will provide advice on which bonds you are eligible to buy, as well as what to do if you feel a company has not kept their side of the deal. Bonds don’t always pay big, but they can provide you with stable growth over several years.

Make no mistake; a five year corporate bond will add considerable depth to your portfolio and help to secure your capital during Trump’s inauguration. This is a key consideration, particularly as there are still considerable gaps in knowledge concerning the incoming President’s precise manifesto and economic plan.

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Planning Is Essential if You Are to Grow Your Assets

For many years it was thought that buying real estate was the best way for an ordinary working family to build up their wealth. It is too simplistic to say that people 30 or 40 years ago bought real estate which is now worth many times more than their purchase price. The best way to look at home ownership is to look at what percentage of their income at the time was needed to fund the purchase and the ongoing monthly mortgage costs. Having said that owning a home means no rent. The bottom line is the calculation on owning real estate involves more than simple figures on a piece of paper.

Real Estate

In recent years the recession has called into question whether it is worth taking a risk with investing in real estate, perhaps being overly optimistic on buying something that it is difficult to afford. Recessions occur periodically but in general families can expect the value of their properties to grow. It is a medium to long term exercise to grow an asset and in the situation when many people approaching retirement have such limited funds set aside that asset growth may be needed to provide a comfortable retirement.

Demands on Your Pay Check

The problem that many of the younger working generations face these days is they are struggling to meet their current financial commitments and therefore find it difficult to save the necessary deposit. Those starting out on a career find so many demands on their pay check. Student loans are an obvious problem and graduates who used a credit card to fund their student lifestyle often have expensive card balances to handle. Even being able to pay the monthly minimum that is required stretches finances. If this is your problem then a word of advice; get a cheaper personal loan at a cheaper rate of interest, get rid of that balance by using the urgent loan to pay it off and only use the card in the future when you can afford to pay the month end balance in full.

The point is that you cannot spend your time balancing your debts and save the money you need to get a deposit for real estate. Equally you will struggle to invest for the future anyway and certainly not be able to get the money together to have an emergency fund unless you understand financial management and have the self-discipline to follow a budget.

Those who leave home for a new city to start their careers face the prospect of finding somewhere to live; it will cost money even if it is shared accommodation. Perhaps you are luckier? If you can live at home and your parents understand that you are saving for your own place then your monthly expenditure may be far less than your friends who have significant rent to pay.

Living at Home

In the USA today it seems that an increasing number of people, even up to the age of 35, are living at home rather than moving out. The important thing is that if you have the chance to live at home that you use your money wisely; don’t spend everything you earn on things you don’t need. Devise a saving strategy with a clear idea of what you are aiming for financially.

No one teaches financial management at school and unfortunately some people learn the hard way. Investing in general is an alien concept on those in their 20s, even their 30s because they often have a problem identifying spare money that they can use. Alternatively they think that if they have a specific amount in the bank then they can spend it all before the next pay check comes in.

Budget

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that there is no point in saving because with interest rates so low there is no real growth available. You need to look beyond the very short term. Once you decide to live by a sensible budget you can expect to have a surplus to use for a few things that will potentially help your financial future:

  • Saving towards a deposit for real estate.
  • Accumulating an emergency fund, ideally a minimum of three months regular expenditure
  • Investing so that you have the chance of building up a retirement fund that will provide for comfortable retirement

In many ways these things are interlinked. Unless you understand the importance of planning for the future you have little chance of owning real estate and ultimately building up the assets to provide a comfortable future.

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